by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 


Articles tagged with: Covered California

26 August 2014

I Got a Letter from Covered California Saying I Qualify for Health Insurance for 90 Days

Posted in Health Insurance 101

I Got a Letter from Covered California Saying I Qualify for Health Insurance for 90 Days

We just got a letter. We just got a letter. We just got a letter. Wonder who it's from? Mail from Covered California can be frequent, tardy, confusing, redundant, wasteful, but usually self-explanatory. If you started a health insurance application on Covered CA's website, you may still get letters delivered to your home. You can't escape them, even if you move to a Hut-on-a-Rock. 

The most common mail from Covered CA is a generic thank you letter telling the recipient he/she may qualify for premium assistance . It may annoy or confuse people who already signed up for a plan and know the whole tax credit spiel. 

This letter is automatically generated once someone enters a mailing address on Covered CA's online application. It takes a few business days to arrive, and by then you may have already enrolled. Don't take it out on the mail man for sending out-dated news. Even if you decide against Covered CA's insurance, the letter will arrive to try and change your mind. Ignore it if you already selected a plan. 

The second most frequent mail I get asked about proclaims "you qualify for health insurance through Covered Calfiornia for 90 days". Or it's worded as "you qualify for 90 days because information doesn't match Covered California's records". This letter is just worded horribly and sends everyone into a panic attack. No one is getting health insurance for just 90 days. 

The letter means that based on information you or a health insurance agent provided on your application, e.g.: your gross annual income, your age, family size, citizenship status, you must provide proof in the next 90 days. For example, if you say you're 26-years old, you must upload a copy of your birth certificate or drivers' license on Covered CA's website or fax your documents to an agent to do it for you.

The 90 days refers to the amount of time Covered CA gives a person to provide proof. If you cannot show proof as requested in your letter in 90 days after you sign up, you must reapply for health insurance. 

Similar-sounding scare mail was delivered to 100,000 homes over the summer, reminding forgetful Californians to send in proof of citizenship or residency. The cost of forgetting is losing your health insurance in October, which means you'll see a fine on next year's tax returns for not having 3 months of consecutive coverage in 2014. 

Seek a health insurance agent who understands the process if you want your case expedited. Just remember to be timely or risk shooting yourself in the foot and losing health insurance. Literal or figurative foot-shooting is now covered by Obamacare. 

08 January 2014

How to Pay The First Premium for Covered California

Posted in Latest News

How to Pay The First Premium for Covered California

  To stay on top of Obamacare notifications, I signed up for both electronic and paper mail. This conflicts with one new year resolution of mine to save more trees but aligns perfectly with another goal: to take better care of myself and pay my bills on time.

   Lucky for me and the rest of us, the due date to pay the first premium for Covered California insurance plans has been extended. Unfortunately, this means my original bill sacrificed trees for nothing.

  The Obama administration announced Saturday an extension, making the new due date January 15 to pay the first month’s premium for Covered California plans. For those who haven't signed up for insurance, that date happens to coincide with the last day to enroll for coverage beginning February 1st.

    For all insurance companies, once you pay the premium, they will send you your ID card and summary of benefits. Some companies take up to two weeks (they say 10 days) in which case you can hit the gym and work on your resolution in the meantime.

  So where and how do I pay my first Covered California premium?

  Here's a list of payment sites and phone numbers for each provider:

Covered California Provider


Customer Serivce #





Anthem Blue Cross


Blue Shield of California


Chinese Community Health


Contra Costa Health

855.957.2247 Ext. 3

Health Net


Kaiser Permanente

888.236.4490 (payment)


800.539.0695 (enrollment)


Molina Healthcare


L.A. Care Health Plan


Sharp Health Plan


Valley Health Plan

888.421.8444 Option 2

Western Health Advantage


21 November 2013

Is My Insurance Plan Cancelled Or Can I Keep It For Another Year?

Posted in Latest News

Is My Insurance Plan Cancelled Or Can I Keep It For Another Year?

Does the status of your insurance plan confuse you?

Is it cancelled? Uncancelled?

Is uncancelled a word? What am I getting your mom for Christmas?

Wait, what?

Late October-early November, insurance carriers mailed over 900,000 cancellation notices to policy-holders (effective December 31st) because their current plans didn't meet new Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) standards.

This pretty much confused and enraged everyone, especially because the president repeated over the years that "if you like your old plan, you can keep your old plan".

To save face and bend over backwards like a pretty contortionist, President Obama announced an ultimatum on November 14th: insurance companies must either maintain the decision to cancel plans that aren't compliant with ACA or reverse the cancellations and extend the plans temporarily.

After a year extension, the non-compliant plans would definitely be cancelled.

At midnight, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones posted an opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee supporting the reverse cancellation of plans, stating that not all old plans are bad.

Today, Covered California reached a 5-0 vote to maintain the cancellations.

In other words: if you got a letter that your old plan is cancelled, it's cancelled. For real this time.

02 October 2013

10 Obamacare Tips for all Ages and Incomes

Posted in Covered California

10 Obamacare Tips for all Ages and Incomes

   Breaking Bad started with a man diagnosed with cancer whose health insurance was too expensive. Isn't it serendipitous how the series finale ended the same week Obamacare began*? You've waited long enough: let's get to the Top 10 Obamacare Tips!

   1) Obamacare is also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

    This is sometimes shorted to PPACA or Affordable Care Act or just ACA.

   2) *Obamacare has been the law since 2010.

    Some benefits (ex: kids staying on their parents' plan up to age 26) started sooner than others.

Other benefits start later: like on January 1st, 2014, all preexisting conditions must be covered by all insurance carriers at no added cost.

Most people say Obamacare began October 1st, but they really mean the biggest changes started.

   3) When someone mentions "Obamacare insurance" they probably mean new insurance plans in the exchange*

    Truthfully, Obamacare affects all insurance plans.

  4) *An exchange offers new health insurance plans, varied by state.

    Imagine an exchange like a call center for the DMV. The exchange will ask questions over the phone, enroll you in any insurance plan they offer, and mail you an insurance card.

Each state has its own exchange with its own name. For example, the exchange in California is called Covered California.

   5) Exchanges sell new plans. But they aren't the only place to buy them.

    Not everyone buys Coke from a vending machine. Likewise, not everyone will go to the exchange to buy insurance.

Insurance brokers and agents are more experienced than newly-hired Exchange workers, so most people will likely call an agent for faster, more convenient service.

    6) You may recognize new plans in the exchange.

    Major carriers: like Anthem, Kaiser, and HealthNet, competed to showcase their plans in the exchange. To be in the exchange, plans must have 10 Essential Benefits and premium assistance if you're low to middle income.

  7) Premium assistance lowers the cost for insurance and acts like a voucher.

    This is sometimes called subsidized insurance, a tax credit, or a subsidy. If you're under 65, don't qualify for Medicaid, and don't get insurance an employer, you may qualify for assistance if you buy an exchange plan.

Ask an insurance agent to help you enroll in an exchange plan. If you qualify for assistance, your premium will drop the day you enroll. Click here to calculate how much your premium assistance amount may be.

 8) Obamacare makes you buy insurance or pay a fine.

    The fine is $95 the first year, then sharply increases each year you're not covered.

  9) Not interested in exchange plans? There are still private plans.

    Insurance brokers and agents still offer private insurance plans. Likewise, plans in the exchange are also available as private plans (which means they don't come with premium assistance). Call an insurance agent for more details.

  10) You may keep your old plan. Your plan may also change.

    The only changes some plans will see are more benefits. As the healthcare system gets an overdue makeover, some plans will be reviewed to become more efficient and affordable. Ask an agent to review your plan for more details.

27 August 2013

Covered California Takes Over Reddit, the Site Obama Crashed

Posted in Latest News

Covered California Takes Over Reddit, the Site Obama Crashed

    I was in a bar once when a guy approached me cautiously. He seemed to recognize me but wanted to make sure who I was. He asked if I was a Redditor. My friend beside me looked flabbergasted and asked, "A predator?" I hoped he meant the alien bounty hunter.

    Apparently the stranger was asking if I was a moderator on the site Reddit: combined the title is known as "Redditor". He was meeting one at the bar and apparently I looked the part. After a lot of laughs and drinks, the stranger-turned-acquaintance explained Reddit is becoming so popular (despite my unfamiliarity), the President hosted his own Q&A on its forum last election. And crashed the site.

    Today Covered California, the state marketplace offering new health insurance plans starting October 1st, hosted its own Q&A on Reddit. The forum of choice was "AMA" or "Ask Me Anything" which is a popular platform for professionals to introduce themselves and ask the world for questions in their specific field.

    The star on AMA today was Chris Patton, representing Covered California's small business health options program aka "SHOP" for small business owners looking to insure their employees. He hoped to clear the air regarding healthcare reform in California and raise awareness of the coming changes. At least he met one of his goals.

   Over 200 comments later, which is awfully short for a Reddit thread (a Breaking Bad episode discussion ranked up over 5000 comments), the session ended and Patton apologized to newcomers who couldn't figure out the website. At least it was a step up from when the Executive Director of Covered California, Peter Lee presented himself on AMA and gathered only 72 comments.

    Despite the small audience, there were interesting questions raised regarding tax credits aka subsidies and details of new SHOP insurance plans most business owners should know for their employees' sake: especially business owners still deciding whether to get a small group plan in 2014, when most healthcare reform changes kick in. Here are some of the highlights from this afternoon's discussion: